Good Governance

Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Planning Commissions attempt to publicise successful governance initiatives of state governments is a commendable one, though it can be viewed as a logical follow-up to its National Human Development Report, 2001(NHDR). While the NHDR frequently referred to the concept of good governance and elaborated on the tools necessary to achieve this objective, it failed to adequately highlight actual models of development unfolding across India. The recently released compendium Successful Governance Initiatives and Best Practices: Experiences from Indian States, prepared jointly with a unit of the United Nations Development Programme, makes up for that shortcoming. The documentation of 20 successful programmes underway in 14 states brings to the fore the myriad outcomes of good governance: Be it the economic upliftment of local communities, their improved access to land and water and social services such as quality education and health care, or a qualitative improvement in their dealings with local administration. Subsequent editions can now be expected to widen the scope of their content and also include experiences of states not mentioned in the debut document.

As far as this compendium is concerned, it does end up dispelling somewhat the widely prevailing cynicism associated with State-sponsored developmental schemes. Indeed, several powerful messages emerge, foremost among which is that good governance is scarcely more than a combination of political vision, economic wisdom, focussed implementation and effective monitoring the latter two achieved by co-opting non-governmental organisations and local communities into the schemes in question. That success stories have also emerged from northern and eastern states such as Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Tripura together with their southern and western counterparts, which have traditionally been at the forefront of the development process is heartening too. That said, more than 50 per cent of the success stories emerge from just four states (Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh). Herein lies the publications greatest relevance. Innovative education guarantee schemes, e-governance initiatives, sustainable forestry management practices, water supply and sanitation systems are approaches which have not only worked but can also be replicated. The Planning Commission has set the ball rolling by putting in the public domain these select experiences. It is sincerely hoped that they are replicated widely within and across various states. If 14 states can do it, theres no reason why 28 states and six union territories cant.